By Michael Lee – STC
Both trainer Leticia Dragon and jockey John Powell shook their heads when the cards came out on Wednesday – Nimble’s fairytale run of three wins in a row would surely come to an end.
While the former Perth galloper (late The Shoe) was not forgotten by the handicapper’s calculator, he was completely left out in the cold by the barrier Gods.
Nimble was slapped with the steadier of 59.5kgs in the $70,000 Kranji Stakes C race over 1200m and drew the outermost alley in an ultra-competitive 14-horse field made up of the likes of the other unbeaten horse in the line-up, My Dreamliner, Triple Trio and Mo Almighty, among others.
However, races are not won on paper, but on the track, and in the case of the versatile four-year-old son of Patronize, it’s both green and brown.
Victorious on the Polytrack at his first two Kranji starts, Nimble showed he was just as effective on turf at his third start in a Class 3 race over 1200m on January 20.
Dragon and Powell, and most pundits were doubtful whether he could pull it off again in the hot turf race on Sunday, but it would seem Nimble had been told jack.
Half the battle was won when shortly after dispatch, Powell deftly dragged Nimble ($26) across the field to nestle his mount into a perfect one-off spot worse than midfield.
My Dreamliner (Benny Woodworth), who was hammered late into $13 favouritism, had also overcome an awkward barrier to secure his preferred spot at the head of affairs.
But contrary to his two dominant wins when he had the race all stitched up by the 400m, the Tang Weng Fei-owned son of Dream Ahead was struggling to put a space on his rivals this time.
Longshot Flak Jacket (Zy Nor Azman) shaped up as the unlikely challenger to come testing his mettle, while Safeer (Callan Murray) and Cerdan (Koh Teck Huat) were not far behind, but seemed to be punching above their weights.
In the meantime, Nimble had seen daylight at the 400m and was exploding away on the outside, with Triple Trio tagging along a few lengths astern. Upfront, Flak Jacket was locking horns with My Dreamliner and close to staging a big upset, but Nimble’s superior finish had both of them covered.
The win register rang four wins on the bounce – and the cash register more than $150,000 – for the MMW Stable-owned galloper as he crossed the line first, three-quarter length clear of Flak Jacket with Triple Trio just missing out the runner-up spot by a nose. My Dreamliner lost no admirers with a gallant fourth place another head away.
To illustrate the depth of that race, there were around 3 ½ lengths top to bottom between the winner and the 11th horse (Chalaza). The winning time was 1min 10.22secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.
“The horse had the fitness to win the race, but I was worried about the 59.5kgs and from the wide barrier, it looked tough for him today,” said Dragon.
“It was by far his toughest test, but what a great ride from JP. I’m over the moon!
“We’ll celebrate today’s win and worry about his next run. It’s not easy to get four wins in a row nowadays.
“I’ll have a look what’s on the programme before deciding where to next for him, but he sure proved he was a very good horse today.”
Powell, who was aboard at Nimble’s Kranji winning debut in October, but sat out the next two wins through suspension (Michael Rodd filled in), said the horse had since improved by leaps and bounds.
“He just keeps stepping up this horse. To be honest, I didn’t think he could win today,” said the Australian jockey.
“Barrier 14 and 59.5kgs, I thought he’d have to be really good, but when I was able to get him one off the fence in seventh spot, I was more confident.
“He let down very well once I peeled him out wide. It was a top effort for him to win under those circumstances today.”